CIH New York Tour Day 2

Day 2 morning took is to the Brooklyn Library. Let’s be clear, I frigging love libraries! And librarians tend to be some of the best people.

We learned about their outreach program geared towards children experiencing homelessness, particularly their mobile children’s library that goes to shelters and family housing projects in addition to schools and other locations. It was interesting to note that with a vision to reach out to people experiencing homelessness, they found a focus on kids was the foot in the door with the library board. (Rings true that services for children, youth, and families are easier to sell to a more skeptical conservative audience/tax-payer.)

It strikes me more broadly that as we struggle for safe places for increasing numbers of people to be during the day, libraries are already serving this pivotal role but could be supported to do so to a greater extent. The Central Library in London partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association to have a drop in hub (and have trained mental health workers in site) which worked out really well. Perhaps in addition to funding more spaces, we can staff up more libraries? Imagine supervised consumption next door to a place with washrooms and a place to hang out?

If libraries can welcome all people experiencing all things, it doesn’t matter if they are homeless or housed. So 2 thoughts from the trip so far: 1) More permanent supportive housing at deeply affordable rates, and 2) More libraries staffed up for folks with complex needs.

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